Friday, May 27, 2011
La Momia Azteca (The Aztec Mummy) (1957)
MEXICO --- horror
In this B-grade Mexican horror film by director Rafael Portillo, we explore the unknown possibilities of life after death; particularly reincarnation. While that doesn't sound so horrific, the filmmakers decide to go the route of actually making it interesting, by throwing in some mummies and a notorious gangster/mad scientist.
In the opening, we see a shootout between police and gangsters, setting up the films antagonist, "The Bat". What's interesting here is they also reveal that this bandit at large is a kinda mad scientist in his own right, who experiments with creatures and humans. Esteemed Dr. Eduardo Almada has made advances in his studies of hypnotherapy. He suggests before a board of scientists about his experiment to use hypnosis to reveal a persons past lives. The board, being outright dismissive of the idea. He claims it could be very dangerous to the subject and that he has yet to find someone he can use. The board, realizing his studies to be incomplete without a subject, basically does not show approval. Later, Eduardo discusses the dilemma with colleagues like his flighty assistant Pinacate, and Dr. Sepulvada; the father of his fiancee Flor (played by Mexican scream queen Rosita Arenas). It is Flora who eventually encourages Eduardo to move forward with his project. She even offers herself as the guinea pig for the project. Meanwhile, we see a masked man (The Bat) creeping around a window of Almada's home.
As Dr. Almada puts Flor under his hypnosis, "The Bat" looks on intently. Alamada begins his questioning Flor and soon gets her to go back in her memory to a past life. In flashback, she reveals that she is in the ancient Mexican city Tenoxtitlan (The Native American name for Mexico City). Her name was Xochi, a sacrificial virgin for a pagan deity named Tezkatlipoka. Alamada takes her memory to the time of her sacrifice. At this point, she reveals an Aztec warrior named Popoca, who's in love with her. She fears the desecration of her body by even kissing will be found out by the priests, and they will both be killed. They are found out and both are sentenced to death. They force Popoca to drink a sacred elixir that will drive him insane. The priests bury him alive with a breastplate and arm band, and the film spends quite some time showing the ritualistic details of the sacrificial ceremony.